The lead singer, guitarist and co-founder of Starfield isn’t referring to the classic Who anthem. Neufeld instead is talking about a track on his band’s Beauty in the Broken CD. And, in a sense, he is referring to the audience that will be attending three different Rock the River events across Canada this summer.
Featuring seven hours of high-voltage music and brief, challenging messages by Franklin Graham, the Rock the River Tour will stop in Fraser Valley (outside of Vancouver) on Aug. 7, Calgary on Aug. 21 and Edmonton on Aug. 28. It is designed to reach a lost generation of young people with a positive message of hope.
Starfield will bring their signature brand of melodic, anthemic modern worship to all three cities. They are one of the hottest tickets in Christian music, especially in their Canadian homeland. They’re also one of the most decorated, with an assortment of Juno, Covenant and Shai awards to their credit.
Founded by brothers Tim and Jon Neufeld in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Starfield’s latest release, The Saving One is filled with vocal harmonies from the brothers and their trademark lyrical depth.
In the middle of a busy summer touring schedule, Neufeld recently took time to share his heart for Rock the River and for the people who love his music. “It’s a great opportunity to be part of something that is bringing churches together and has had great success in America,” he says. “Being part of what the Billy Graham Association has been doing for decades—and that’s providing these amazing events for people to encounter Christ—that’s what we’re all about.”
As someone committed to communicating with youth, Neufeld “absolutely” sees the need for Rock the River in Canada. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s all about communication and follow-up too. If the infrastructure is there for someone to continue to be in the kids’ lives, and not just be a mountaintop experience for them, then I think absolutely that’s what this area needs.”
Canada, says Neufeld, is a lot like America. “Maybe the only difference is that Canadian kids don’t have as much of the culturally accepted, ‘everybody’s a Christian, let’s go to church and not talk about the real issues’ thing that exists in different parts of America. It’s probably more like Europe in that it’s got its own flavor of universalism, and humanism, and hedonism and a lot of other ‘–isms’ that define it.”
Reaching the Heart
But, says Neufeld, music is “an amazing tool to speak past the brain and into the heart. Sometimes our intellects get in the way of feelings and things that the Holy Spirit is trying to communicate to us. Music has this way of cutting to the chase.”
Also, he adds, in music the message remains the same although the medium may change and the style changes. “The message is the same for that teenager who is for the first time discovering his independent spirituality from his parents, needing to make that decision as an adult on his own. And it’s the same for that elderly person on their deathbed who finally decides to hand over their independence to God–and accept that they are a sinner and receive all the great stuff that comes along with salvation.”
Starfield’s music seems to strike an emotional chord with its audience because of its sheer honesty and vulnerability. On the band’s latest release, The Saving One, the song “I Need a Father” talks about the need to be loved, the need to be known, and then finding that worth in our heavenly Father.
“It’s not an uncommon theme,” says Neufeld, “but when it’s put in a three-minute song, it has this impact that can sometimes do more than a thousand sermons that have been preached about the same topic. It’s just the way that God has created music. It’s a pretty humbling thing to be part of.”
Neufeld most enjoys penning songs that carry “maximum impact”–the songs that “generate emails about how it revolutionized somebody’s life in the quiet of their car, driving to work because it spoke to that specific thing they are dealing with.”
He does not shy away from the harder messages of Christianity though. “I think it was part of Jesus’ mission. I think we can really water down and dilute the message when we start trying to make it fit our lifestyle or ideas of what church should be.
“I think it’s important not just as Christians who have been walking it a long time, but those who are kind of coming into it–that He says to ‘take up your cross and follow Me.’ That’s not necessarily going to be easy,” Neufeld adds. “Ninety percent of the world has a whole different understanding and experience of what Christianity is anyway.”
Help Us Bring the Gospel to a Hurting Generation
This generation is starving for the hope of the Gospel. You can help bring them the love of Christ by donating to Rock the River West.
Speaking of the world, Starfield has been recognized for its global outreach efforts, working with World Vision in Uganda, for example. Recently, however, the band has focused on helping people a little closer to home. “It’s helping out in the local prison and leading worship for the guys there who may be locked up for life,” Neufeld explains. “Or it’s helping out with a shelter downtown in the city we live in.”
For Starfield, helping globally and locally are equally important. “We’ve been honored and felt humbled to be part of anything we can do to use the platform that we have to inspire people to love the poor, and to let go of their own lives and just give it away.”
This is the first in a series of articles highlighting bands that are part of Rock the River West. You can also learn more at The Rock the River West Tour site »